This week's NXT was fairly strong throughout with a lot of interesting action, whilst nothing particularly stood out, it felt like much more of a storyline building week with the seeds planted for future parts of story, with Sami Zayn and Bo Dallas's feud really getting into gear, alongside a new number one contender to Graves & Neville's NXT Tag Team Championships.
NXT Tag Team Championship Number One Contenders Tag Team Turmoil Match:
Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady
CJ Parker & Tyler Breeze
with Sylvester LeFort
Now NXT doesn't have a lot of real tag teams so the tag team turmoil idea seemed like a bit of a stretch, for me. The Ascension are the only team that'd really consider a conventional tag team, with Amore & Cassady possibly at a stretch. The Legionnaires are moving towards that way, with them both being managed by Sylvester LeFort, but I'd still see them both as singles wrestlers rather than a tag team. So for this Tag Team Turmoil to be viable, they had to create a make shift team of rivals Tyler Breeze and CJ Parker, it's been done before and it'll be done again most probably. The team was made by Raw General Manager Brad Maddox, after both Breeze and Parker came to see Maddox (who was apparently on charge off tonight's show) about being part of the match, it was a fairly contrived situation, but played well by all three involved.
The story that this match attempted to tell, needed longer than it was given to make it really worthwhile. The first match saw Amore & Cassady taking on CJ Parker & Tyler Breeze in a brief encounter that didn't really do anything for me. Parker dominated Amore until Parker refused to tag in Breeze allowing Amore to get the tag to Cassady who hit a Spinning Sitout Sideslam to pick up the victory. I understand that they were trying to push the dislike between Parker and Breeze, but Parker is supposed to be a face, and refusing to tag in Breeze seemed like a heel tactic to me. Up next for Amore & Cassady was Sylvester LeFort's team of Scott Dawson & Alexander Rusev now know as The Legionnaires. The Legionnaires worked over Amore for a couple of minutes looking good in control and working quick tags. After Dawson hit an Arn Anderson style Spinebuster he went to pick up Amore, only for Amore to trap him in a small package to pick up the victory and to advance to the final match of the Tag Team Turmoil. It was a decent finish, but we just had seen enough of The Legionnaires in control of the match to make it mean as much as it should.
Personally, I would have prefered to see Amore & Cassady take much more of a beating in the first two matches, yes, they did take most of the offence from the other two teams but it was only for a couple of minutes. By the time The Ascension were revealed as the final team, Amore and Cassady should have been exhausted, building up two teams at the same time, The Ascension as the evil heels coming in to pick the bones and the valiant Amore & Cassady who pulled off two upset wins after tough fights, however it didn't quite feel like that. The final match was a decent encounter if not a little basic, with Conor O'Brian and Rick Victor working over Cassady for a lot of the match, before Cassady managed to make a short comeback, including a nice near fall, with Cassady making the tag to Amore, only for Amore to come up short after O'Brian outpowered the smaller man. The finish saw The Ascension hit their double team finish with the leg sweep/heel kick combination to pick up the victory and become Number One Contenders for Graves & Neville's NXT Tag Team Championships.
The Ascension make perfect sense as the challengers for the NXT Tag Team Championships, seeing as they have been feuding with both Graves and Neville over the last few weeks. They probably could have just been given a title shot anyway and I'm sure no one would have had any complaints about that, but doing it this way just gives them a little bit more behind their claim to the gold and makes them look a much more credible tag team. Can they beat Graves & Neville for the NXT Tag Team Championships, I'm interested to find out. Personally, I think it's time to put the titles on The Ascension, as Graves & Neville have only ever felt like transitional champions, whilst they have performed well with the belts, it's clear that they are not a proper tag team and really this is just a set up to lead into a singles feud between Corey Graves and Adrian Neville, before both are ready to make the step up to the main roster.
Best of the Rest (In The World)
Also in action this week, was fan favourite Sami Zayn who took on El Local (Ricardo Rodriguez under a mask) in singles action. It was a decent short encounter, with the action fought a pretty high pace throughout. Zayn dominated most of the match, which was essentially an enhancement match, Local was there to make Zayn look great and he did a pretty good job (not like it takes much to make Zayn look awesome in the ring). The finish saw Zayn fight back from a momentary spell of control for Local, hitting a series of moves, including a back body drop, before finishing off Local with a Yakuza kick to pick up the pinfall victory. Obviously, this match doesn't stand up to Zayn's classic bouts with Antonio Cesaro and Jack Swagger on NXT, but it simply wasn't designed to do that. For what is was, this bout was entertaining and a nice set up for what was about to come.
After the match, NXT Champion Bo Dallas came out on to the ramp, with a few words to say to Zayn. I thought this promo was probably the strongest we've seen out of Dallas on NXT, as he didn't seem to be effected by the crowd, in his usual way which is to simply start laughing mid-promo, he simply said what he had to say and got it over with. Dallas continued to claim he was a mentor to Zayn, which of course is hilarious in itself, before announcing that he would be holding the Bo Dallas Invitational starting next week, where any wrestler could challenge him to a match and if they win they will get a title shot. Zayn, of course, was the first to throw his name into the hat, only to be turned down by Dallas for being unsafe in the ring. I thought this was really nice set up for things to come in their rivalry, as we know The Bo Dallas Invitational isn't going to go down without incident, and therefore should be tuning in next week to find out!
WWE COO Triple H was also in attendance at NXT this week, coming down to the ring to continue a storyline that has been a prominent part of Raw recently, that being the McMahon family feud with The Rhodes family. After putting over a number of NXT talents, Triple H went onto remove Dusty Rhodes as the General Manager of NXT, and replace him with John “Bradshaw” Layfield. It was a little confusing, seeing as we had seen Brad Maddox working as an authority figure throughout the episode, and certainly didn't get the heat that it deserved because people were just happy to see JBL. It was an interesting idea to attempt to carry over the storyline to NXT and made sense to do so, but I'm not surely it really payed off in the way they were hoping here. JBL could be an interesting General Manager and I'm wondering if we'll see a shift on the show, now that it is run by a heel.
In women's action, Sasha Banks accompanied by Summer Rae took on Bayley, in strong women's bout. Both women looked competent in the ring, with Banks really growing into her new heel role, looking vicious throughout with some nice ad lib really helping to get that character across to the audience. The finish saw Bayley climbing to the top rope, only to be tripped by Banks, who sent Bayley into the top rope again before picking up a pinfall victory following a Double Handcuff Neckbreaker. After the match, Summer Rae got on the mic, and in a surprinsgly good promo announced that Fandango would be on NXT next week, as well as putting over her partnership with Banks. Just when it looked like the pair were finished, Emma ran down the ramp sending them running. The pop that Emma got was fantastic and shows that women can get over in today's WWE, and with Rae later challenging Emma to a mixed tag team match next week things are beginning to heat up in their feud.
Aiden English was also in action this week, in a squash match against Bull Dempsey. English's singing actor gimmick is a little too similar to Damien Sandow's gimmick for me, but that doesn't mean it's any less entertaining. English picked up a quick victory with Take A Bow, after an entertaining encounter. English looks capable in the ring, at least in this kind of environment, I'd like to see how his character translates to a singles feud in the near future, as well as see him in much longer matches with some of NXT's finest.
After a three month absense, Kassius Ohno returned to WWE television to confront Brad Maddox about why he hadn't been on the show. They played around with the management holding Ohno down angle, with Maddox describing Ohno as a D+ player, a reference to Daniel Bryan being called a B+ player on Raw. With Ohno being granted a return match next week, I am very happy to see him back on the show as he was one of the most entertaining aspects of NXT a few months ago and is more than capable in the ring. Hopefully, his problem's with WWE management have ceased and we'll be seeing a lot of Kassius Ohno in the near future.
My final thoughts on this week's NXT.
1. The Tag Team Turmoil match needed more time and precision booking.
2. Sami Zayn is still the best thing about NXT.
3. I would happily listen to William Regal on commentary for hours on end, he's magnificent.